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Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra: Waltzing With Zoe

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With personnel changes, discipline and the familiarization that comes with time and hard work, Bob Brookmeyer has molded his New Art Orchestra into an ideal vehicle for the profundities and felicities of his mature writing. Over the past several years, his skills as a composer have converged in a creative cauldron in which he melds all that he knows and all that he feels about music and life. He has the spark of inspiration and the technical means to translate his knowledge and emotion into music with specific gravity that relates to the seriousness of our times.

“American Tragedy,” Brookmeyer’s meditation on the United States in the 21st century, is a lamentation deep enough to qualify as threnody, the ancient Greek name for funeral music. These new compositions also explore joy (“Seesaw,” a drums-and-orchestra conversation), exhilaration (“K.P. ’94”), tenderness (“Sweetie,” “For Maria”), a sense of wonder (“Child at Play,” “Fireflies”) and the rewards of risk-taking (“Waltzing With Zoe”). It has been a long time since Brookmeyer wrote, as he once said, “music to make your teeth hurt.” Although he uses plenty of advanced compositional techniques here, this music is accessible and deeply centered in the most profound human responses.

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